The republicans must have got a hold of a leaked proposal President Obama will present Thursday night to get six million people back to work. The president is considering a “Georgia Works" program which would allow businesses to train workers for eight weeks without having to pay them. The program will be on a voluntary basis for workers and businesses.
This program is open to workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits. The current federal benefits have been extended to 73 weeks, but it is set to expire in January. Speaker Boehner and majority leader Eric Cantor have written a letter to the president reminding him that this was a Republican proposal in December of 2009, and it still remains an area that might have some bipartisan support.
Georgia State officials have said that most workers who go through the on- the- job training later wind up with jobs but as of yet there is no data to prove that. Labor advocates worry that the program exploits workers by providing free labor to businesses. The Georgia Department of Labor said that as of last week only 19 people have enrolled. I wonder what will happen if the trainee gets hurt; will insurance pay for someone who is not employed.
This weekend, all the talk was about the president's speech Thursday night, as to whether he would present something bold, knowing it wouldn't pass and use it as a campaign issue or would he go to the same-old extension of unemployment benefits and extending the payroll tax cuts. I thought NPR's Mara Liasson said the president should include big bold steps and that another stimulus might be approved, if the president also mentioned ways of reducing the deficit and debt without giving specifics. It's like a small business asking for loan that will keep them going but presenting a business plan to show how they will tackle their long-term debt. Mara made an excellent point, but she's in denial if she thinks that the Tea Party will approve anything the president presents.
Congress returned today after getting an earful from their constituents. They have several job proposals they can start working on. One is the expansion of our trade agreements. I don't know why a jobs program can't be part of the mix of whatever the super committee comes up with. This is the most important issue, at the moment and we should treat it that way.
We don't have a short term deficit. We have a job's deficit, but we do not need substandard jobs. A recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute reported that 20 percent of federal contract employees earned less than the poverty level for a family of four, as opposed to 8 percent of traditional federal workers. Many low-wage jobs in the private sector (notably, the health care industry) are financed by taxpayers. The government can set an example by setting and enforcing wage standards for contractors.
When states and localities use their zoning powers to approve commercial projects, or offer tax incentives to attract new employers, they can require that workers be paid living wages; research shows this will not hurt job growth.
Labor standards have to be upgraded and enforced, particularly for those employers, typically in low-wage industries, who engage in “wage theft,” by failing to pay required overtime wages or misclassifying workers as independent contractors so that they do not receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
Americans have long believed that there should be a floor below which job quality does not fall. Today, polls show widespread support for upgrading employment standards, including raising the minimum wage — which is lower, in inflation-adjusted terms, than it was in 1968. It’s time for the federal government to take the lead in creating not just more jobs, but more good jobs. The job-growth mirage of the Rio Grande Valley cannot be our model.
I think the president will propose an infrastructure bank program; perhaps a joint venture with the private sector as I have mentioned before. I know that the president wants to start repairing crumbling schools, bridges and roads but many will ask where the money's coming from. I think the fed is just sitting back waiting to see what Congress will do. As dire as the economy is; I'm almost certain that Q3 will become a reality.
I know many will tune out the president but I'm interested in seeing if we have some proposals that can give as some short term relief and get the unemployment number moving on a downward trend? A lot of economists say that unemployment will still be an 8% this time next year; if we're lucky because we still have a housing crisis.
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